Thursday, June 11, 2009

A.M.A. Still Doesn't Understand How Important Health Care Is To Americans

For decades now, the American Medical Association has opposed any comprehensive government program to fix the ills of our nation's health care situation. As millions more become uninsured and many that are lose benefits and pay more to insurance companies to receive less, the A.M.A. remains steadfast in their opposition to real reform. Of course there are other physician's groups that do want single payer or public option programs, but the problem is that insurance and pharmaceutical industries have their tentacles extended into almost every facet of American medicine. The A.M.A. in turn gives and has given mixed messages to the public on what they think is best for us.

From The Huffington Post:

Historically and philosophically, however, AMA's opposition is hardly newsworthy. Despite a lofty reputation and purported commitment to universal coverage, AMA has fought almost every major effort at health care reform of the past 70 years. The group's reputation on this matter is so notorious that historians pinpoint it with creating the ominous sounding phrase "socialized medicine" in the early decades of the 1900s.

"The AMA used it to mean any kind of proposal that involved an increased role for the government in the health care system," Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina, told NPR in a 2007 interview. "They also used it to mean things in the private system that they didn't like. So, at one point, HMOs were a form of socialized medicine."

Indeed, the role played by AMA throughout health care reform battles past has often been primarily as the defender of the status quo. In 1935, fears of an AMA backlash helped persuade Franklin Roosevelt's advisers to drop a health care article from the Social Security package -- fearful that the opposition would sink the legislation altogether.

The problem the A.M.A. refuses to see is that there is a problem with the status quo. The status quo kills thousands of people a year, leaves thousands more unnecessarily sick and has given our country a crisis of gargantuan proportions. The A.M.A. may have a quarter of a million doctors but tens of millions of Americans demand Congress help fix the problem that corporate America has created in our health care system. I would hope that Congress knows which number is greater.